By Sen. John Thune
After nearly a decade of economic stagnation, the economy has been regaining its footing and is getting stronger by the day – welcome news for South Dakotans and Americans around the country.
While there’s no doubt the economy is heading in the right direction, I always believe it can be even stronger, particularly in certain areas that are critically important to South Dakota. That’s why I’m going to keep pursuing the kind of pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda that’s already helped move the country toward greater prosperity and freedom.
Our agenda is pretty straightforward: reduce burdensome government red tape that’s unnecessarily getting in the way of South Dakotans’ lives and businesses; pass legislation that spends tax dollars more efficiently, which, in turn, allows hardworking taxpayers to keep more of what they earn; and partner with, and keep pressure on, the administration so they make positive decisions that will benefit our state.
The Republican-led Congress has already slashed numerous Obama-era regulations that were hamstringing growth. We passed first-in-a-generation reforms to the U.S. tax code that lowered rates across the board, nearly doubled the standard deduction, and doubled the child tax credit. And I’m personally keeping the administration’s feet to the fire while it negotiates new trade deals, because our agriculture industry – the lifeblood of our state – depends on it. I’m also continuing to pressure the administration to approve the year-round sale of E15 fuel, which would both lower costs at the pump and increase U.S. energy dominance – a win-win for South Dakota.
In many cases, the results of this agenda have been historic. Last year, middle-class income in the United States grew to an all-time high. For the last five months, job openings have exceeded the number of people who are looking for jobs, the first time that’s happened in the history of these numbers being tracked. In July, the number of job openings hit an all-time high, and Americans filing for unemployment bottomed out to its lowest level since 1969. This underscores the importance of supporting our rebounding economy by pursuing federal and state efforts to grow and train a modernized workforce.
On the business side, small business optimism has reached historic levels – the highest ever, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. Business investments, which allow companies to expand and help them hire more workers, have increased by more than eight percentage points since before the 2016 election.
The economy has responded by growing at a strong rate. In the second quarter of 2018, it grew by 4.2 percent, which exceeded many expectations. Since the landmark Tax Cuts and Jobs Act became law at the end of last year, nearly 1.7 million jobs have been created nationwide, and 4 million have been created since the Republican-led Congress and the president joined forces in 2017.
We’ve worked hard in Congress to put points on the board for South Dakota and the rest of America. We’re in good shape, but I’m going to continue playing like we’re two points down with 60 seconds to the buzzer. We owe it to the American people to leave it all on the court, and that’s what I plan to do.